chara

 

Over the next couple of months, I will be taking a closer look at each of the Eastern Conference teams to show what their current status is and where their offseason focus lies. Knowing a team’s strategy should provide extra assistance in any offseason trading or keeper decisions. First off, we’ll start with the Boston Bruins.

 

Boston Bruins


UFA: Brian Rolston, Chris Kelly, Greg Campbell, Daniel Paille, Joe Corvo, Greg Zanon, Mike Mottau, Marty Turco.

RFA: Benoit Pouliot, Tuukka Rask, Zach Hamill.

Rostered players signed for next season: 18*

Available cap space: $5.27M*

 

The Boston cap space above (taken from capgeek.com) includes Marc Savard’s $4M cap hit, so technically the Bruins have about $9.2M of available cap space dedicated to nine forwards (if you include Jordan Caron for next season which should be a safe bet), six defensemen (if you include Torey Krug’s $1.7M cap hit – although he very well may end up in Providence), and two goalies (Thomas and Khudobin).

 

With this setup, the Bruins top six is fairly solidified with Lucic-Krejci-Horton and Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin occupying the two top lines. That leaves Rich Peverley fighting to get back in the fold, but if Horton is still out at the beginning of the season, he may just have a top six role after all. What that leaves is Jordan Caron and Shawn Thornton for third and fourth line minutes. With Chris Kelly’s huge year, he will likely ask for more money than Boston is willing to pay, but at least one if not both of Greg Campbell and Daniel Paille could be brought back. If not them, similar role players will acquired through free agency or trade.

 

In terms of forward prospects, the top candidates to graduate to full time NHL duty are Jordan Caron, Carter Camper, Craig Cunningham, and Kirk McDonald. Caron has seen the most time in Boston, but Camper and Cunningham have decent offensive skillsets (though small) and could turn a few heads if given the right opportunity next season. McDonald is not known for his offense, but has taken on more leadership in Providence, most recently being named alternate captain for the 2011-12 season. He could potentially slot in as a cheap depth forward, although if the Bruins choose this route they will likely be in the market for additional veterans to balance the locker room presence.

 

On defense, the Bruins are locked in with Chara and Seidenberg as their top pair. After that pair, Ference, Boychuk, and McQuaid are all under contract for at least next season. Zanon and Mottau are almost certain to be let go, which leaves Joe Corvo’s status up in the air. The Bruins will most likely walk from Corvo’s contract as they look to bring in the highly touted Dougie Hamilton. Although most Dobberites are familiar with Hamilton’s hype, one of his main competitors will be 2011-12 CCHA player of the year Torey Krug. For those who don’t recognize the name, the undrafted Krug was also a Hobey Baker finalist and after signing with the Bruins in March, he stepped right into NHL action for two games at the end of the season, registering one assist. The one knock on Krug is his size (5’9”, 180 lbs), but he is certainly strong competition.

 

Lastly, the Bruins have one of the best goaltenders in the game still under contract in Tim Thomas. The problem is that they also have one of the best emerging goaltenders in the game in Tuukka Rask, and Rask needs a contract extension. While it’s unlikely that Rask is moved, the Bruins do have a very promising – although relatively untested – goaltender in Anton Khudobin. Khudobin has only been able to get into NHL action for a handful of games each of the last three seasons, but he has been dominant almost every time. His only NHL appearance in 2011-12 was a 44-save victory (.978 save percentage) over the Ottawa Senators on the road. In seven NHL appearances, Khudobin is 5-1, with a 1.32 GAA, .961 save percentage, and a shutout. Although it would not be the ideal set of circumstances, the Bruins could potentially move Rask if the value is high enough and still be set with a solid backup in Khudobin. This may not be the best long term move though, which is why the Bruins will do everything in their power to keep Rask in Boston.

 

As good as Khudobin has been, he has had a hard time getting a full time opportunity. While it might be a bit risky, the Bruins could have a phenomenal goaltending tandem if they moved Tim Thomas and opened the season with Rask and Khudobin. If that were to happen, Khudobin would provide significant fantasy contributions in a backup or 1b role.

 

Biggest holes to fill: The Bruins really need to decide how they plan on filling out their depth lines next season and beyond. Depending on how much the existing crop will command, they may need to look to the UFA market to fill these holes. If they go that route, players like Sami Pahlsson, Jay McClement, Dominic Moore, and Ryan Carter could be viable, affordable options.

 

It will also be interesting to see how much scoring the Bruins decide to carry on their third line, specifically if they want to give Peverley some talent to skate with in hopes of having a deep offensive attack. Besides Peverley, the Bruins have a light cupboard of players who have top line NHL experience under their belt. For insurance reasons alone, the Bruins might look to bring in two or three more versatile players who can play on any line.

 

Priorities: The number one priority for the Bruins has to be to get Tuukka Rask’s situation handled. While Rask is an RFA who could only be signed to an offer sheet, that is one headache that nobody needs.  Next would be to add a few depth forwards who can play strong two-way hockey.

 

All in all the Bruins are not in terrible shape. Their top six forwards are locked and depending on which direction management goes, the third and fourth lines should not be too difficult to fill. On defense, most of the roster is solidified and they have two emerging, fantasy relevant defensemen who will engage in healthy competition – that situation will be very interesting to watch from a fantasy perspective. In goal, the Bruins could certainly continue to move forward with a Thomas/Rask combination, but they also have the luxury of rolling the dice on a Rask/Khudobin combination if they choose.

 

If you can own any of the top six Bruins forwards, they should all be in great shape to continue producing, but there is not much value outside of those players (although this may change depending on what kind of third line talent is brought in). Depending on your scoring categories, Boston has a few defensemen that are certainly worth owning, especially if they keep Thomas and Rask in town (plus/minus doesn’t hurt too badly when your goaltender is amazing). Lastly, whoever Boston decides to roll the dice with next season, both the starter and the backup should be good options.

 

Got anything to add? Feel free to add your opinion below.

 


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Comments (12)add comment

ridinryan44 said:

ridinryan44
Spooner what are your thoughts of Spooner making this team? Sounded like he wasn't too far off last year - any chance?
May 11, 2012
Votes: +1

dime said:

dime
... I was a bit surprised you didn't mention Max Sauve as a potential forward - I thought he'd be ahead of at least Cunningham and McDonald on the depth chart despite missing time with injury, but I might be incorrect? He had a strong second half and also was called up as emergency player a few times I believe
May 10, 2012
Votes: +0

Rollie1967 said:

Rollie1967
... my bad- i was using old data for the compensation- a deal over $4mil is a 1st and a 3rd, makes it more palatable.
May 09, 2012
Votes: +0

Rollie1967 said:

Rollie1967
offer sheets The issue with offer sheets is is you want to sign a player like Rask or Schneider because you think they can be your #1 goalie, then youre paying them $4mil or more/year, and the compensation you give up goes up the more you pay them. Anything over $4mil is : #1,#1,#2,#3 round picks, and if you need a starting goalie...chances are youre picks (atleast the first year) are going to be decent ones, which for a rebuilding team like the Leafs...might be too rich. For the Bolts-its a possability,but the original team still has the right to match, and in both Vancouver and Bostons cases theyre more likely to match- and trade the other goaltender (they cant sign and trade the qualified keeper for 1 season). I believe Thomas' no trade clause expires July 1st, it is in both teams best interests to get Rask and Schneider signed before then.
May 09, 2012
Votes: +0

Tim Lucarelli said:

duballstar014
... The Bruins would definitely match an offer sheet. Even if it meant that they had to move someone like Krejci, although I doubt it comes to that.

If the Bruins get to the trade deadline and still have Tim Thomas, the odds are much more favorable that they'll keep him as a depth option for the playoffs. I really only see TT moved if it's in the offseason or at the very latest by January. As soon as we get into February, Thomas is more likely to remain a Bruin until his contract expires.

That could of course all change if Rask is performing as a top 5 goaltender in the league, so ultimately you can't rule anything out. But if I were a betting man, I would guess that Thomas is either moved relatively early or he sticks around for the long haul.
May 09, 2012
Votes: +0

Rad64 said:

Rad64
...
What happens if Rask is signed to an offer sheet? I know he has stated he wants to play in Boston, but what if Tampa Bay or someone else in dire straits comes calling? Can Boston match a decent offer for Rask and still fill out their roster? It would be interesting to see Garth Snow make a play..they could afford to lose the draft picks.
May 08, 2012
Votes: +0

kenzle1r said:

kenzle1r
... Great points by both of your guys here on TT and Rask's contract. My belief is that they should keep TT next year and move his "expiring contract" at the deadline if they assess that Rask is ready to be that guy. The problem for BOS if they choose to go this route is keeping TT happy in a 1B role as he's widely considered one of the best G in the game today.

Another theory that makes sense to me is to move his contract ASAP this offseason to open the door for a Parise, Suter, etc signing. BOS would be in ideal shape to take on a larger contract even after signing Rask to a long-term contract.

As I mentioned, I really enjoyed the read and I'm looking forward to the others.
May 08, 2012
Votes: +0

Tim Lucarelli said:

duballstar014
... @Rollie1967, great points. It's unbelievable how a goalie's status can change so quickly. To a lesser degree (meaning less elite), look at Leighton and Niemi today. How do their teams value them?

Rask's contract could definitely have a huge impact as to whether or not Thomas will stay in Boston next year. Whether he does or he doesn't though, Thomas carries a pretty affordable $5M contract with only one year remaining. There are a lot of teams who would be wise to make that investment.
May 08, 2012
Votes: +0

Tim Lucarelli said:

duballstar014
... @kenzle1r, it's hard to delve too much into trade speculation, but trading Thomas could make sense depending on a couple things. (1) If they are doing it just to clear cap space, they better have a plan to bring in an immediate presence with that extra $5M. (2) If the cap space does not matter, they need to fully committed to developing Tuukka Rask into their undisputed #1 goaltender.

If either of those two things are something that Chiarelli wants to implement, then the only thing he needs to do is get Timmy T to waive his NTC, which I think he probably would do. The trade itself is unlikely to bring in elite talent, but if he can utilize the cap space to either acquire another high salaried player through trade or fish one out of the free agency market, then it could work out well.

The most likely scenario I see is that Boston does not trade Thomas until the season is underway. Give Rask a chance to re-emerge and at that point, your trading options are much greater. Teams would have less salary to pay Thomas with each passing game; Thomas could be motivated to waive his NTC if Rask is getting most of the games; and Thomas' contract is less risky as it would expire at the end of the season. For all of these reasons, the Bruins might be willing to hold on to him until about January or so.

The problem with all of that though, is that any of the options make sense. Which one will they go with? All depends I'm sure...
May 08, 2012
Votes: +0

Rollie1967 said:

Rollie1967
... If Rask signs a short term deal (most likely however long it is till he qualifies for UFA status) then I could see them keeping Thomas for 1 more year. But if he wants to be paid like the future #1 he is, for a longer term- then he's getting over $3mil per, and Thomas would have to be delt fairly soon. I see Toronto as a good fit, as Thomas likely has only a few years left- or if Brodeur retires. Kind of odd that both Thomas and Luongo could be moved this offseason- 1yr removed from battling for the Cup, and both still capable of greatly improving a teams fortunes- for those that can afford it- and for the short term.
May 07, 2012
Votes: +0

kenzle1r said:

kenzle1r
... Sorry, I should have said "touched more on the possibility of moving Thomas" as you did make reference to it.
May 07, 2012
Votes: +0

kenzle1r said:

kenzle1r
... Nice read Tim, however I wished you would have touched on the possibility of BOS trading Thomas this offseason. Do you think that's even a viable possibility? I can't see them moving Rask as it's been stated that he's in there long-term plans by Chiarelli himself. I personally think they ride both TT and Rask until the deadline and then assess whether or not Rask is ready for the playoff push. But there are a ton of rumours suggesting that Thomas could be had for the right price and that BOS could roll with Rask and Khubodin.
May 07, 2012
Votes: +0
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